Goodwill Essentials: The Button-Down Shirt

Good news, thrifters: our Emme is back with another installment of Goodwill Essentials, showing you the items every woman should own in their wardrobe and how to get it for a song at your local Goodwill!

This week’s undervalued champion: the button-down shirt. After all, this single piece is fantastically versatile and can be worn in a myriad of ways! Doubtful? Then you’d better keep reading…

A J.Crew Perfect Fit Button-Down retails for $65. I found this one at Goodwill Chelsea for $7.99... and took it home right away!

Why Is It Essential?

It pairs so well with other essentials! It can dress up those perfect jeans, especially if you add a blazer. But if you swap out the denim for a pencil skirt, you have a perfectly professional suit! If you want a more casual vibe out of your LBD, you can throw on a button-down, add a skinny belt and some snazzy flats.

Also, button-down shirts are appropriate at any age and for any occasion, and if you find a good one, you’ll wear it again and again!

Two classic button-downs: a crisp white shirt with pleated detailing and a beautifully broken-in 3/4 length blue shirt.

Here’s a few tips to keep in mind:

Shirts are quite a bargain at Goodwill with most starting at $7.99, so you will be getting an amazing deal from the get go! (Imagine the cost-per-wear if you get it half off or even free by using your customer rewards!!!)

A crisp white shirt is a great item and a black one makes everything look more dressed up. I love Oxford (light blue) shirts because they are the perfect balance of casual and dressy. Keep in mind colors that complement your skin and eye/hair color: since the item is right below your face, it can definitely enhance or detract your complexion.

You’ll find many shirts with all sorts of patterns, from subtle pinstripes to bright plaids and paisleys. It’s a great way to try out a trendy graphic print because the shape is such a classic. The fabric is also something to keep in mind: a softer fabric renders a pinstripe more casual, a silky button-down is extremely luxe.

A bright blue shirt is nothing to hide behind and a preppy plaid gets some pep with a pink hue!

Always look over the garments to check for stains or rips. If it’s an easy repair and you can confidently tackle it, go ahead. If you know that the shirt will simply sit unworn in a “repair” pile, move on. Another crafty thrifter will give it a loving home.

And speaking of DIY, a button-down is the perfect blank canvas for putting your own spin on clothes. Dye it, trim it, pin it… Replace the buttons! Make it a crop top, or if it’s a men’s shirt, tweak it into a mini dress by taking in the sides and belting the waist.

A great-fitting button-down shirt is one of the most flattering items a woman can wear. Look for structured shirts, with seams and darts, especially if you have curves! If the shirt is slightly too big but is in otherwise perfect condition, invest in a tailor and take it in. You will be amazed at how different your body looks when the clothes fit properly.

Also, since most of the clothes here have been pre-loved, you might come across some altered garments. If a shirt is too snug, check if seams can be let out. I found a perfect Oxford button-down (from Banana Republic). It fit me like a dream but the sleeves were too short! My solution? I roll them to my elbow and it looks great.

Have fun trying out prints, from plaid to paisley (and don't forget polka dots)! If you're more conservative, wear them under a jacket and have the collar and sleeves poke out.

The great thing about button-down is how many ways you can wear it!

  • With a dress – Under a dress, a button-down is cute and preppy. Over a dress, is a great additional layer or to add a pop of color.
  • With jeans – Tuck the shirt in and put on some riding boots: you’ve got an equestrian-chic look (especially with a blazer!). Keep the shirt unbuttoned with a tank underneath and some wooden platform clogs and you are channeling your inner boho child. Add a moto jacket = instant rocker chick!
  • With a skirt – With a pencil skirt, you’re ready to tackle any project at the office. With a bandage miniskirt, you’ve got the ultimate sexy date outfit.

Three pinstriped shirts with a different feel each. The blue & white is a timeless choice, the silk shantung grey is uber-luxurious, and the softly washed red and white is perfect for a beachside bonfire!

Have you found any of your essentials at Goodwill? We want to know! Share your finds by commenting, tweeting at @GoodwillNyNj or posting on our FB Wall!

P.S. Got any style/thrifting questions for me? I’m starting a new segment where you can ask me how to wear a certain look or find a rockin’ gem! Keep your eyes peeled!

6 thoughts on “Goodwill Essentials: The Button-Down Shirt

  1. Marsha Sumal says:

    No bah, humbug here! Artwork & sweaters, and a brand new coat! Cook books, computer chair, Sweat shirts & knick knacks to jazz up the house, Pretty new Red shoes for Christmas and BLING! These are a few of my favorite things! Thanks to the staff at the East Brunswick Goodwill on 18. Everyone is so helpful and sincerely glad to welcome. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to you all!!!☺


    • goodwillnynj says:

      Hi Marsha – Wow! Thank you for sharing your holiday finds with us; they sound amazing. We’re so glad to have supporters like you. Happy Holidays!


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